Three Years of Little Lights
It’s been three years of Little Lights now — a good time to reflect and think about the vision, the journey and the future. So here we go, four different opinions on the last three years — from left to right.
Please note that this article is from April 1st, 2017.
Looking back my vision for Little Lights Studio was to build a company that doesn’t focus so much on the specific medium but the content itself. There are many great commercial productions, entertainment productions and digital studios out there, what intrigued me the most was the idea to start from the perspective of a story and only then think about the shapes it could take and the medium it’s best told in.
This is kind of an abstract idea and a pure ideal that has to stand the test of reality, the market situation and the business aspects of running a company.
The year that the idea of founding a company was born was also the year that my daughter was born — it was definitely not the safest bet to support a family. But a solid mix of optimism and stubbornness helped to create something out of thin air that you’ve never done before.
The First Three Years
Starting something from a new is both exciting and daunting. You’re full of ideas and thirst for action but at the same don’t you don’t know the do’s and don’ts — you have to figure them out along the way.
The absolute best thing we did was to grow slowly and give ourselves time to learn. And boy did we learn. When you’re stuck in action you don’t realize how much you already learned, but when you look back you realize that you’re almost a new person.
And it’s quite safe to say that I learned the most from failures — stuff that didn’t work out the way I imagined, great ideas that didn’t resonate and bad ideas that did.
And there is one aspect of running a company that I ignored completely in the beginning — it is not a project that you can start, produce and finish, it is something that has to be nurtured, cared about and lived. Each and every day. And again it all comes down to building and maintaining relationships.
We had the luck that many great ideas evolved and we had the grit to stay true to ourselves and our ideals.
Right now I feel that Little Lights Studio is right where it should be. It is a place where we can have fun, where we can argue and where we can be ourselves.
A place where personal projects are as important as client projects and vice versa. A place where story still is king and where all the stuff that distracts you from staying on your path, actually is part of your path.
The most important support I had was my family and my dear friend Toni: “If you want to travel fast, go alone. If you want to travel far, go together.”
Little Lights Studio didn’t become that place because everything turned out as planned, but because we adapted and changed all while staying true to ourselves.
Little Lights Studio is what it is because of the people that are part of it. It’s a safe haven where new ideas can grow, new projects are nurtured and a place where I’m still excited to go each and every day.
Since I am the newbie in the Little Lights gang I am not able to review the last three years, but I have a good picture of the last 6 months. Starting this job was a great opportunity and it felt right from minute one. I had the biggest enthusiasm and the most self-confidence in myself with taking this job, that this is my place to be. Looking back on this half a year making me realize I had such a luck, becoming part of the Little Lights Family, and having a job, which I am proud of and where I am respected by who I am and what I do.
Being part of Little Lights is a huge step in my personal growth and my self-expression. I already learned so many things in this short amount of time, whether those were job wise, technical things or simply personal belongings. Coming to the office every morning with a smile on the face is probably the biggest gift, which goes along with a lot of fun doing the work we do and what we are able to accomplish together.
My dreams for the Little Lights future are simple:
Everyone should follow their creative flow and ambition as they are doing right now for expressing themselves and gain personal and professional experience. Coming up with new ideas and ways of production should always be part of our daily business. But most I am wishing for Little Lights Studio is to become a high-quality benchmark in the storytelling universe, regardless if it is live action, animation or an app.
And most important thing is not to loose our everyday smile and joy.
It all started with an internship in summer 2014. I just wanted to get an inside look into the job I wanted to do since I was 13 years old. For me, everything was exciting: the problems that came with developing a company and the solutions that were required. Still struggling with the beginning of a new life-project, Miso and Toni found the time to teach me some lessons about storytelling and gave me the opportunity to start my own project. Exercises of writing and insights into meetings with clients were great preparations für the job I want to do and are great fun.
Then came my first job on a set as a Production Assistant. I was so excited and scared at first but after some hours the fear went away and the excitement stayed. From that day on many exciting projects came along. One was the animated web series Dishwasher Diaries and with it classes of animation processing.
But the greatest highlight of all the projects was the short film I wrote, produced and directed. Toni and Miso helped me in the greatest way possible. They were there for me for every silly question and every worry. Not only was it a great experience but also great fun!
Little Lights Studio with Miso and Toni and recently Daniela, appears to me like a second family. Like in a real family, not every day is sunny and bright but most of the time it is pure fun in the office and we have a great time!
I hope in the future fun will continue, more exciting projects will emerge and the Little Lights family will experience many more sunny days!
Is it 3 years already? Wow. It felt like 3 months. It felt like 30 years. There is a lot of Little Lights for such a small amount of time.
When Miso and I started Little Lights Studio, I was in the middle of one of the most challenging transformational periods of my life: things were ending everywhere, and this little company was the one thing I wanted to start. My fondest wish: to fall in love with storytelling again — the first, the deepest, my longest love of my life. And to re-invent myself as a storyteller, and change what storytelling could be in an age that is as transformational as my life hs been for these last 3 years.
The First Three Years
Apart from one very honest — and flattering — offer to buy our new company within the first few months, the welcome fanfares were few, and far in-between. I expected that much. I didn’t expect how hard it is to run a business and stay sane and true to your inner compass.
I don’t remember if there was a tipping point for me. Some of it had to do with the expansion of my friendship with Michael, my fellow traveler and so much more than a business partner. A lot of it had to do with rhythm. I also seem to remember that we wrote a few really funny, inspired scripts for the web series we produced:
Suddenly, I was seriously enjoying this. I became more happy to talk to demanding clients. I had always liked our little office in Vienna’s 8th district. Now I began to love it. Little Lights Studio started to feel like home to me, not like „my new business“. What made me most happy was that finally, just in time for Christmas last year, our team at the Studio finally gelled with the arrival of our new producer, Daniela.
So, have I learned anything from this? Three main things:
First, I have grown up tremendously during these 3 years. While this might sound funny to people who see a 50-year-old guy, it is nevertheless true: I feel I was able to grow my inner adult (not without growing pains) without killing my inner child.
Second, I have learned to say no: we only do projects we believe in, projects that create true value. We work on projects and create products that inspire us, as simple as that.
Third, I have learned to be more kind to myself. To expect more compassion, more love and less criticism from myself. I have always been a perfectionist and extremely driven as a director. But Little Lights is not a project. It is. And you cannot lead a company and be your own worst critic. You have to learn to be kind to yourself. I am still practicing, though. Not everything can be accomplished in the first three years. The future will show how far I can take this.
More stories. Always more, better, exciting, heart-wrenching, funny, touching stories. It is the thing that matters most. My life is stories.
One of them most pleasant surprises of the Little Lights Journey has been the new folks that have entered my life and made it more magical than before. Clients, artists, writers, animators, fellow entrepreneurs, app-smiths, directors, editors, business consultants, producers, financiers, tv executives — I cannot count the number of new people that have stepped out of the shadows and brought back on of these Little Lights that I so dearly need to feel alive and well in the world.
I hope for more of that. I hope more stories. For more moments of creative discovery. For even more guidance in the ways of business. For a little less stress. But mostly, I hope for 3 more years of exploring deeply, with all my heart, why every story is a little light in the dark.